Latest Rough Guide Album Includes Uchinānchu Artists

Album Art for The Rough Guide

Recently released Rough Guide series includes songs from Uchinānchu artists as well as performers of Uchinā music. There was also a Rough Guide for the music of Okinawa released in 2006 but it’s only available in CD format at this time.

A wonderfully diverse collection exploring some of Japan’s lesser-known contemporary styles by artists rooted in tradition. From the female divas of the southern Ryukyu islands to the minyo revivalists Boomdigi, Aragehonzi and Tsukudanaka Sanpachi, this is an album full of intrigue and surprises.

https://worldmusic.net/products/rough-guide-to-the-best-japanese-music-youve-never-heard

Currently available on all music streaming services “The Rough Guide to the Best Japanese Music You’ve Never Heard“.

November 1st is Luchu History & Culture Day

via Website

November 1st is designated as Luchu History and Culture Day (琉球歴史文化の日) and a special website has been created that has information on workshops and special contests. For the contest portion, the logo mark design has already been decided but there are three other contests that run until the end of the month (9/30 Uchinaa time):

  • Photo & Catchcopy Contest is open to children enrolled in elementary, junior high, high school, and special schools in Uchinaa.
  • Kajadifu Video Contest is open to all Uchinānchu and they’re looking for video performances of “Kajadifu” (YouTubers Ryukatsutyu has a perfect example of this) showcasing the scenery from your part of the world. A special note to add that you will be using their recording of “Kajadifu” that can be downloaded on the contest’s webpage. Even if you don’t participate in the contest, be sure to download the song as it’s an amazing recording by Higa Yasuharu-shinshii (Ryūkyū Koten Ongaku Nomura-ryū Hozonkai).
  • Ryūka Contest looks like it’s open to all Uchinānchu (although it’s not clearly stated) and the rules are simple since it has to be a san-pachi-roku Ryūka and use Shimakutuba.

The bad news? Most of the website (except for the Kajadifu contest page) is only available in Japanese (at this time). So here’s the English translation of the website using Google Translate. Chibariyo to everyone entering the contest and leave a comment if you’re participating.

Contest to Compose the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival Theme Song

You have until August 13 (Okinawa time) to submit your theme song for the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival next year. Visit their website’s page for the contest guidelines but one that stood out is that the theme song must have lyrics in Japanese so sadly no instrumentals. Here are the theme song contest details:

In order to welcome Uchinānchu from around the world who will be participating in the festival, we are looking for a theme song that will enliven the festival pre-events and events promoting exchange with the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture.
Please submit a theme song that will fit perfectly with the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival.
・The length of the song should be no longer than five minutes, the lyrics should be in Japanese, and should not exceed three verses.
・The theme song should be one that makes listeners imagine the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival and the charm of Okinawa.

https://wuf2022.com/en/topics/948

The prize for the winning theme song is a certificate and 300,000 yen (currently around US $2,700).

Okinawa History Club YouTube Channel

While it’s only in Japanese, there’s a YouTube channel called Okinawa History Club (沖縄歴史倶楽部チャンネル) run by historian Maeda Yuuki (links to his Twitter profile). He has videos of Zoom sessions as well as walking tours of Ryukyu history. The 4-part series for the Ryukyu dance “Nubui Kuduchi” is of particular interest as he retraces the path from the Shuri Castle area to Naha Port.

Part 1 of 4 of “I walked Nubui Kuduchi!”

“Ghosts Can’t Dance” Web Drama (YouTube)

Scene from “Ghosts Can’t Dance”

Although the 6-episode web drama “Ghosts Can’t Dance (Yūrei wa Odorenai)” was uploaded to YouTube back in March, I finally finished watching it recently and it’s so good (lots of feels)! Anyone with an interest in Ryukyu culture (both pop and traditional) shouldn’t miss this. The web drama is produced by the Kariyushi Geinou Kouen (Traditional Okinawan Performing Arts) and features the original theme song “Don’t forget” by upcoming singer-songwriter Kina Kanon.

YouTube link to the first episode of “Ghosts Can’t Dance”.

Murasaki Mura Ryukyu Kingdom Theme Park

via Murasaki Mura

From May 23rd to June 30th 2021, Murasaki Mura is offering free admission to its Ryukyu Kingdom theme park while actually being temporarily closed due to the emergency declaration for Okinawa. Sounds like a great opportunity for picture-taking like @Okinawanderer.

Ryukyu Historical Drama Shō En Ou (TV)

via Twitter

In the category of “I really want to watch this!” comes the RBC Ryukyu historical drama Shō En Ou (the king of the second Shō dynasty) which aired in February 2020 and is being streamed on Japan’s Paravi service and sold as a DVD (sadly, no English subtitles for both editions).

The cast is led by ParanaiSaranai’s Chinen Shingo (he’s also the first Kanai/Ryujin Mabuyer!) as King Shō En and features actors and actresses from Okinawa. I found the DVD for sale on Amazon Japan but it’s region code 2 (not playable on US players) so I may have to go the Paravi route which is at least offering 2 weeks for free.

7th World Uchinanchu Festival

The 7th World Uchinanchu Festival has a date set! It will take place in 2022 from October 31st to November 3rd (note the website counts October 30th as the Festival eve).

The “World Uchinanchu Festival” honors the achievements of Okinawan people from all over the world, recognises the great value of the community heritage of Okinawa , and seeks to expand and develop the Uchina network through exchanges with Okinawan citizens around the world. The purpose is to bring people together, reaffirm their roots and identity, and thereby be able to pass them on to the next generation.

The festival is sponsored by the Uchinanchu Festival Executive Committee of the world, which is organized by Okinawa Prefecture and related organizations, and has been held approximately once every five years since the first festival in 1990 (Heisei 2). It has been held 6 times so far.

https://wuf2022.com/en/about
WUF Promotion Video

JTB has a newsletter you can sign up to for tour package information. They will have escorted group tours and are also able to help you plan for individual travel packages too. Check out their link for more details.

Follow WUF 2022 on Twitter for the latest updates.

@kanasaorganics on Twitter

One of my new Twitter follows, KANASA Co-Operative, is one that shares words and stories from Ryūkyū in English. They also have a website with longer form articles about Ryukyuan culture that’s a great resource to deepen your knowledge. One of my favorite articles is about the hidari-gomon that I see everyday when I pick up my sanshin (it’s on the tiiga). From their website:

Established in 2019, KANASA is a modern co-operative committed to the preservation and awareness raising of Ryukyuan stories, histories and cultures, through creative editorials, art and trade.

https://www.kanasa.co.uk/about/

Follow @kanasaorganics on Twitter. Kanasa website.